Short form content is driving music discovery in India

Nearly one in every five hours of music engagement in India (19.1%), took place on short form video apps between 2019 and 2021, almost as high as the amount of music consumed on YouTube, according to David Price, Director of Insight and Analysis of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). In the same report, he continues that social media has become one of the most common ways in which platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat were used was to enable Indians to find and share music.

But on closer look, short form video emerges as a forerunner when it comes to Indians’ choice of social media consumption. Indeed, we’ve broken global trends, allowing this segment to grow a whopping 269% since 2019. India’s oldest age group (55 to 64 year-olds) consumes almost as much short form content as 16 to 24 year-olds across the world. Everyone in India’s looking at short videos.

No wonder then, videos such as that of Sahdev Dirdo, a young boy singing Bachpan Ka Pyaar went viral with over 9 million views and 4.5 million likes on Instagram within mere hours. It also captured the attention of rapper Badshah and comedians, Bharti Singh, Sudesh Lahari and Krushna Abhishek when they put their own spin to the song. Likewise, ‘Kacha Badam‘ Singer Bhuban Badyakar’s music and now journey for fair compensation has become a national issue.

Global management consulting firm, Bain & Company puts it well in a recent report saying “Online video consumption has exploded over the last few years, with a surge in both users and usage bolstered by prolonged stay-at-home periods during the pandemic. The Indian Internet user spends more time online than several countries globally, including China. Most of this time, a staggering one hour per day for a smartphone user is spent consuming videos.”

Keep it short

While the numbers are mind boggling, there is no doubt that the short form video – anywhere from 15 seconds to two minutes long – is having its moment under the sun. It’s fuelling a relentless showcase of talent and creativity that’s sparking enterprise in allied industries. Music especially.

Raunak Singhvi, strategist and ex-KPMG consultant says, “Tik Tok became an instant hit and because of its virality, people realised that this is a market that needed to be captured. Immediately, Instagram rolled our Reels which became very popular egged by the popularity of Tik Tok. YouTube followed with Shorts and a string of platforms like Moj, Josh, Roposo, MX TakaTak and Chingari. The popularity also stems from the fact that there are features in the app that allows them to shoot a quick video. In fact, many of the content creators are full-blown influencers who have managers.”

Indian trends not only shape the country’s creative currency but influence changes across the world, which is why India was the first country where YouTube Shorts was launched. Since September 2020, YouTube Shorts has paved a way for greater discovery, fan engagement and monetisation opportunities for the music industry. “Today, YouTube Shorts has enjoyed over five trillion all-time views,” says Pawan Agarwal, Director, Music Partnerships (India & South Asia), YouTube. “Shorts represents an exciting opportunity for our artists and creators to continue innovating with their content, fan engagement and even growing their earning opportunities. We’re continuing to build YouTube Shorts alongside our creator community, and we have made music a central part of this offering, creating a powerful platform for artists to drive promotion and fan engagement.”

Transcending borders

In the IFPI’s Global Music Report 2022 said to be the definitive annual review of the global recorded music market, Skander Goucha, EVP, E-Commerce, Business Development & Digital, Universal Music Latin America & Iberian Peninsula, says, “alongside the growth of streaming, there is a considerable acceleration in the popularity of short-form video platforms, which are becoming key for artists to share their stories and build deeper connections with their fans.”

At the centre of the short format discourse is the apps’ ability to showcase talent. Gatekeepers of the music industry have been made obsolete with the advent of influencers, a situation when partnered with dwindling attention spans, makes the space incredibly lucrative. “This has also solved the issue of distribution, as viral videos reach every corner of the globe,” reiterates Singhvi. “There have been a lot of venture capitalists from abroad that have invested in them. Now we are at a stage where we will see consolidation, whether it is mergers and/or acquisitions.”

Another reason SFV apps are becoming popular is that several celebrities like Badshah, BTS and Ed Sheeran have used them to promote their music. In fact, these popular names have taken the engagement route by throwing challenges at their fans. For instance, Badshah’s  #JugnuChallenge was synced to the release of his single of the same name; while BTS’ #PermissionToDance Challenge  saw their fans be a part of the special “Permission to Dance” Shorts Challenge video. Grammy-award winning artist, Ed Sheeran also shared a sneak peek of “=” album only on YouTube Shorts. While Tik Tok may no longer be around in India, SFV apps are making sure, music discovery scales new heights in the country. And content creators who thought it would be impossible to recreate their success are today on a new musical high.

An E&Y March 2022 report titled ‘Tuning into consumer Indian M&E rebounds with a customer-centric approach’ indicates that non-film music – particularly in regional languages – will continue its domination over content trends, driven by artist and song discovery on short video and social media platforms. This will spill over in the development of branded music, another area that’s expected to grow exponentially. It’s probably is the best thing the music industry has heard in the last two years.

Number Crunching

  • 16.7 Crore users of TikTok before ban on June 29, 2022.
  • 30 Crore users and 10 Crore creators of Moj and MX Taka Tak alone.
  • Average time spent on these apps is 45 minutes by these users
  • 14 languages offered.
  • Only less than 1% of digital spend on these platforms.
  • SFV platforms are estimated to have 60-65 Crore users by 2025, with average time spent of 75 minutes.

SFV market is booming (3.5x growth in user base, 12x growth in total time spent over 2018–20) and has massive growth headroom courtesy Bain & Company’s Online Videos in India—The Long and Short of It

India SFV market is poised for hyper-growth: 3 in 4 Internet users will watch SFV by 2025 courtesy Bain & Company’s Online Videos in India—The Long and Short of It

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